I'm thrilled in this episode to share the first part of a two-part interview in which David Holmgren shares his journey with permaculture design process over the decades.
Scroll down to access the full transcript of this conversation, with huge thanks to David for sharing the historical photographs which really bring the story to life.
Note that in collaboration with David I had also previously created a downloadable PDF showing the timeline of David's design process journey that might provide a helpful supporting reference.
Finally, be sure to check out the brand new Reading Landscape with David Holmgren documentary project website which is so closely related to this episode.
The Full Interview Transcript (Edited for flow and readability)
Dan Palmer (DP):Welcome to the next episode of the Making Permaculture Stronger podcast. I'm super excited today. I've travelled about half an hour up the road and I'm sitting at a permaculture demonstration property and home called Melliodora. Sitting next to me is David Holmgren.
David Holmgren (DH): Good to welcome you here.
DP: I'm very excited to be here with this microphone between us and to have this opportunity to have you share the story of your journey with permaculture design process over the decades.
David and Dan co-teaching in 2018
DH: Yeah, and that's something we've worked on together in courses: our personal journeys with that. Certainly through those courses, working together has elicited and uncovered different aspects of me understanding my own journey.
DH: Thinking about design process through the lens of childhood experiences, I was always a constructor/builder, making cubbies, constructing things and yet never had any family role models for that. My father wasn't particularly practical with tools, and yet I was always in whatever workshop there was in our suburban home as a young child. So making things, imagining things which don't exist, and then bringing them to life was definitely part of my childhood experience.
I don't know, particularly, why in my last years of high school I had some vague notion that I might enrol in West Australian University in architecture. But I left to travel around Australia instead because I was hitchhiking mad in 1973. And in that process, I came across a lot of different ideas to do with the counter culture and alternative ways of living.
Studying Environmental Design in Tasmania
Most significantly, I came across a course in Tasmania in Hobart called Environmental Design and I met some of the enrolled students. I'd realised by that stage that I was not cut out to do any sort of conventional university course. I was too radical and free in my thinking and wasn't wanting to be constrained within any discipline or accounting for things through exam processes.
DP: What age were you?
DH: I was 18 at that time, and this course in Environmental Design really attracted me. Undergraduate students, who were doing the generalist degree in environmental design, were sometimes working on projects with postgraduate students who were specialising in architecture, landscape architecture or urban planning at the post graduate level.
Mt Nelson campus where Environmental Design School was part of the Tas College of Advanced Education 1970-80
There was no fixed curriculum. There was no fixed timetable. Half the staff budget was for visiting lecturers and outside professionals. There was a self assessment process at the end of each seme...